Strikes by Thurrock council’s waste collection workers due to be begin next week (Thursday 12 April) have been suspended following lengthy negotiations.

The strikes involving 65 members of Unite, the UK’s largest union, concerned a number of issues, principally the council’s plans to install ‘big brother style’ cameras with a live feed on all waste collection vehicles.

Following the negotiations which took place yesterday (Thursday 5 April) Thurrock council has now agreed that rather than allowing pictures from the 360 degrees cameras to go directly to managers’ desks and phones, they will only be viewed by the agreed designated senior members of the data protection and information management team at the council.

If any other council officer requires the footage they will be required to make a recorded written request in line with agreed procedures. Unite will receive a quarterly report on exactly which council officials have requested viewing this footage and it will also be provided on a spot check should the union have a specific concern or incident. The potential that any council managers would be able to access the live feed on their computers and phones, to directly spy on residents and workers will not now occur due to the revised agreed restricted access.

As part of the negotiations the council was forced to accept that the waste collection service was not functioning properly and that action needed to be taken to resolve these problems.

The negotiations also saw agreement on the ongoing problems about Saturday payments to workers, trade union discrimination and the lack of facility time.

While the council draws up a formal legal agreement on these matters, Unite has in good faith called off the first three 48 hour strikes which were due to begin on 12 April, 19 April and 26 April.

The 72 hour strike beginning at 0:01 hours on Tuesday 1 May and the 24 hour strikes due to begin on 16, 23 and 30 May remain in place, until the dispute is formally resolved.

Unite regional officer Michelle Cook said: “Unite had always made it clear that we believed that this dispute could be resolved by sensible negotiations and this has proved to be exactly the case.

“Providing the council puts into writing what it has promised then the residents of Thurrock will be spared the misery of having their waste collection severely disrupted through strike action.

“In good faith Unite has called off the first three planned strikes but the later action remains in place to insure that Thurrock council does not renege on the promises it has made.

“Hopefully this dispute will be resolved and we can move forward to ensure that the ongoing crisis in the waste collection service is resolved and the people of Thurrock receive the decent service which they are fully entitled to.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235. Email: barckley.sumner@unitetheunion.org

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.